I’m back with a look at today’s starting pitcher options, and I’m going to break it down by slate tonight, because I’m that amazing. You’re welcome. We have a 5-game early slate and then a 10-game evening slate, double the fun and a chance to scratch your DFS itch twice.
Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings MLB salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each pitcher. To determine the best values in today’s rankings, I run projections that include opponent’s strength, betting situation, handedness, park factor, projected Game Score, power/finesse pitching tendencies along with ground-ball/fly-ball tendencies. We want to take everything into consideration when making our pitcher choices, because they’re the backbone of the lineup. If you have any last-minute questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
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Cream of the Crop (EARLY)
Michael Wacha vs. Minnesota Twins ($9,200)
The lack of strikeouts have been an issue for Michael Wacha early in the season, but he’s been better of late. Most recently, he’s coming off of a 10-strikeout performance against the Rockies in Colorado. He’s been able to keep his hard-hit contact to a minimum, which is part of why he hasn’t given up the dong very often. It’s a great spot against the Twins, who are 28th in wOBA against right-handed pitchers.
The early slate is not pretty. After a few rough outings, Scott Kazmir looked good his last time out when he went 8 innings against Texas. The strikeout upside that Kazmir possesses blends well with the Padres high whiff rate against southpaws (23.5%).
Middle of the Pack (EARLY)
Vincent Velasquez vs. Colorado Rockies ($5,500)
We’re shooting for a bit of strikeout upside, and Velasquez certainly has that. He only worked 5 innings in his major league debut against the White Sox last week, so I don’t think we can expect him to work much longer in this one. Walks were a bit of a problem, so be wary in cash games, but the Rockies are a much different team outside of Coors (22nd in wOBA on the road).
Julio Teheran @ Boston Red Sox ($8,000)
Because of the lack of options, I suspect Julio Teheran will be owned in a large number of contests today, but he’s not my cup of tea. Even though he’s been priced in the $9K range at times, I still feel $8,000 is too much for a league average strikeout pitcher with a high walk rate. The Red Sox have struggled this season, but they’ve been better at late and they can take a walk. I want more upside for $8K, even on this short slate.
Andrew Cashner vs. Oakland Athletics ($8,100)
The A’s are a much better club when they can go lefty heavy against a right-handed pitcher, but the strikeout potential and the ball park are working in Cashner’s favor here. He’s given up the long ball quite a bit, something that the A’s don’t do well, but their .319 wOBA is good for 10th best in baseball.
Tim Lincecum vs. Seattle Mariners ($7,800)
At home against a below average offense is really the only way I’ll consider Tim Lincecum nowadays, but even then he’s difficult to roster. The price is prohibitive again when you consider you’re best case scenario is 5-6 strikeouts. The Mariners are a bottom five offense so far against right-handed pitchers, and AT&T is the premier run suppressing park in the league.
Rest of the Field (EARLY)
Wade Miley vs. Atlanta Braves ($6,500)
The strikeout gains Wade Miley made last season all stayed in the National League. They certainly didn’t make the move east to Boston. He’s been really hot and cold this season, and this isn’t a terrible place to use him since the Braves struggle against lefties (.276 wOBA is 28th vs. LHP). I just don’t trust him.
J.A. Happ @ San Francisco Giants ($7,500)
After failing to get out of the third inning last time out, J.A. Happ is $600 more expensive this time out. No thanks. I understand the park is favorable, and again, the slate is weak. but I’d rather take a swing on some cheaper upside that’s available.
Kyle Gibson @ St. Louis Cardinals ($6,800)
Kyle Gibson’s ERA is more than a full run lower than his FIP is so far, and he doesn’t have to past history of out-pitching his FIP. He’s benefited from a low BABIP and a strand rate that’s way off of his career mark. The Cardinals are not as dangerous without Matt Holliday, but I don’t expect Gibson to take advantage of that.
Chris Rusin @ Houston Astros ($4,700)
I treat the Cubs and Astros the same in a sense; I only target them if the pitcher has above average strikeout ‘stuff’. Chris Rusin is not that guy. He’s shown the ability to be effective when he keeps the ball down in the zone, inducing ground balls and missing the occasional bat, but the Astros can mash a lefty without swing-and-miss stuff.
And now, the evening slate:
Cream of the Crop
For a reason unbeknownst to me, Jake Arrietta is $400 cheaper today than he would’ve been yesterday in the same matchup. Huh? The Indians are feisty, and will likely go with all lefty lineup here, but Arrieta is all but matchup-proof at this point. He’s tamed left-handed bats (.284 wOBA) and enters play with an above average strikeout and walk rate.
Matt Harvey vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($10,800)
There have been some ups and downs with Matt Harvey lately, and Toronto can make the best pitchers in the game head for the showers earlier than expected. I’m not worried about Harvey long-term (or short-term for that matter) but I probably won’t spend up for him today against the Jays. They lead the league in runs scored, and what they do well (SLG/ISO) have been the undoing of Harvey thus far. He’s usually really highly owned but I doubt that’s the case today, making Harvey an interesting GPP play. Something you won’t see many times this season.
Trevor Bauer @ Chicago Cubs ($7,100)
Trevor Bauer, like his counterpart Jake Arrieta, also saw his price dip overnight with the Monday night PPD. Trevor Bauer is the type of pitcher to use if you’re going up against the Cubs, because his arsenal is incredible when he’s on. He’s not the safest cash game play (failed to make it out of the 4th inning last time out) but his ability to pile up the K’s makes him the perfect tournament option tonight.
Garrett Richards vs. Arizona Diamondbacks ($9,400)
Garrett Richards is better than this. We haven’t seen that yet, but even in his current state he’s a rich man’s Trevor Bauer. Obviously here you can roster Bauer and save $2,300, which might make sense until we see Richards put a couple of nice outings together in a row.
Middle of the Pack
Jose Quintana @ Pittsburgh Pirates ($8,500)
The Pirates have had their struggles against LHP this season, but they made short work of Carlos Rodon last night. Jose Quintana has a bit more experience than the young rookie, and I like his chances to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s 25.3% strikeout rate against lefties. Recency bias alone should keep Quintana under-owned.
Tanner Roark @ Tampa Bay Rays ($5,900)
I’m not sold on Tanner Roark as an above average major leaguer, but he seems to be getting the job done right now. He’s been extremely lucky with balls in play, and his strikeout rate leaves a lot to be desired. He’s cheap though, and the Rays are worth exploiting against right-handed pitchers, and will likely be without Evan Longoria (wrist).
Charlie Morton vs. Chicago White Sox ($7,900)
The regression monster will come for Charlie Morton at some point. He’s Tanner Roark but $2k more. His .240 BABIP-against is nearly 70 points better than his career mark, and he doesn’t miss any bats. Batted ball luck has a long track record of fixing itself and at some point Charlie will turn into a pumpkin. The White Sox have been a hot mess offensively, and are even worse in the NL without their DH.
Rest of the Field
Chris Tillman vs. Philadelphia Phillies ($6,900)
Not even the Phillies can make Chris Tillman a viable DFS option. The walks are just impossible to work around. Nearly 5 per nine innings not only allows more base runners, it drives up his pitch count which caps his upside to work deep into the game and collect a W.
Brett Anderson @ Texas Rangers ($6,200)
I’ve rostered Brett Anderson quite often this season because he’s under-priced and has a favorable park in Los Angeles. Well, he’s still cheap tonight but the move to Texas is not favorable, and the Rangers hit left-handed pitching well (.152 ISO is top-10 vs LHP).
Scott Copeland @ New York Mets ($4,200)
Going head-to-head against Matt Harvey has to be cool for the 27-year old Copeland who’s finally getting his chance in the bigs. He’s a decent tournament play tonight, especially if you’re fading Harvey. The upside is limited here, but he’s not likely to be highly owned, and his salary offers you a ton of flexibility.
Alex Colome vs. Washington Nationals ($5,800)
I don’t want to give too much credit to one player, but I just don’t see the reason to attack a Bryce Harper team with a below average righty. That’s what Colome is. He’s shown flashes of usefulness, but his upside is limited because he gives up so much contact.
Chi Chi Gonzalez vs. Los Angeles Dodgers ($5,400)
Chi Chi Gonzalez is doing his best Nick Martinez impersonation right now, with crazy his strand rates and stupid low BABIP. He has more walks (10) than strikeouts (8) and the Dodgers are as likely as any team to help correct Chi Chi’s early season line. Don’t follow the sub-1 ERA and think you’ve stumbled on to something here.
Nathan Eovaldi @ Miami Marlins ($6,900)
We’ve got some serious revenge stuff going on in Miami tonight if that’s your thing. Nathan Eovaldi returns to Miami to take on his former club, and the ball park shift is a good one for Eovaldi. The Marlins have the best power hitter in the game, and yet are by far the worst power hitting team in the league. Yikes. When Eovaldi is off, he’s prone to give up the homerun, but that’s not an issue against the Marlins.
Kyle Ryan vs. Cincinnati Reds ($4,400)
The Reds have feasted on left-handed pitching this season (5th in wOBA) and Kyle Ryan doesn’t have the strikeout upside that could make him an option at his price. Stack against him, don’t use him.
Chris Young @ Milwaukee Brewers ($4,900)
Miller Park isn’t a place where you’d expect a fly-ball pitcher like Chris Young to have success, but the Brewers have left a lot to be desired offensively thus far. I like them to get right in this spot against young. They’re a heavy fly ball team in one of the best home run parks in the business.
Matt Garza vs. Kansas City Royals ($7,100)
Matt Garza’s ERA and FIP are nearly identical, but that’s not a good thing here. He’s approaching 5.00, and he gets the American League All-Star team, errr, Royals in this spot. They’re aggressive offensively and they’ll be able to take advantage of Matt Garza’s declining skill set.
Jeremy Hellickson @ Los Angeles Angels ($6,000)
We’re starting to see the ground ball totals rise for Hellickson, something that I like to see and will continue to monitor moving forward. He’s keeping his walks in check as well and outside of Trout and Pujols, the Angels have been abysmal.
David Phelps vs. New York Yankees ($4,700)
The other side of the revenge coin! David Phelps can be effective and the home park certainly helps, but the Yankees have handled right-handed pitching well, and as is the case with most pitchers here, there’s no strikeout upside. (!)
Michael Lorenzen @ Detroit Tigers ($4,100)
Again, there’s little to no upside here, and it’s not worth targeting one of the league’s top offense’s without above average stuff.
Jerome Williams @ Baltimore Orioles ($4,000)
Jerome Williams has been smacked around by both left-handed and right-handed bats this season. He’s not going to last long in this one.